Stay Organized and Stay Productive

We’ve been giving and receiving Outlook training this week and it hit me how important it is to stay focused with productivity tools of which Outlook continues to be one of our most important. In an office environment, using Outlook as the front end to an exchange server gives lots of opportunities for sharing schedules, assigning tasks, sharing calendars, and storing emails in public folders so that others in the company can easily access the same information.

Outlook 2007 is a powerful tool whether in a business environment with Exchange server or as a standalone program. The search component in particular is powerful. I have on my Outlook Favorites the search folders Unread Mail and For Followup. You can also add particular category searches that help you to stay connected and keep moving forward. The To-Do bar on the right side of the screen is a handy tool that you can expand or hide to meet your needs but when expanded shows your upcoming schedule and flagged emails.

Another productivity tool that I use in conjunction with Outlook is Jott. I’ve written about Jott previously but it is a great time saver if you’re out and about a lot. I can call Jott to send myself emails, ask for reminders that will come to my phone and email, or send an email to anyone in my address book. Yes, from my phone. So when I’m driving down the road and remember that I need to confirm an appointment via email, I can call (using my hands free bluetooth device of course) and tell Jott to send an email to Ted, letting him know that I’ll be at the breakfast meeting on Friday and Ted will get the email.

Between Outlook, Exchange and Jott, I manage to stay organized and on top of my schedule and keep my productivity high.

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Real Passwords

PC Magazine has posted the list of the 10 most common passwords. Is your password on the list? We hope not. What do you think about having a 6 – 8 character password? Some people really struggle with creating a password of this length, coming up with complex patterns like q2!%vSDv. But can you remember something like that? We continue to advocate creating long but easy to remember passwords.

For example, start with a simple sentence: I like to waterski in the summer. That makes 33 characters – a good length. Now we make a few transformations. We change the l (el)to 1 (one). W e change one of the i’s to an exclamation point (!). And we change one random letter from lower case to upper case. The end result is: I 1ike to watersk! in the sumMer. It’s easy to remember. I’m no mathematician but I believe that is something like 94 possibilities for each of 33 characters which makes an astronomically large number to try to crack.

What do you think? Is this a good password or not?

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Which Type are You?

I came across this quote today:

Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.
Putt’s Law

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Technology Budget

Do you have a technology budget? You ought to. Technology is and should be separate from your office supplies budget. If you don’t plan for how and when to spend your technology dollars, you’ll likely end up spending too much on things you don’t really need on not enough on the things you really do need.

You should plan on spending about 2/3 of your technology budget on infrastructure, hardware and software. That ranges, depending on your needs from computers and printers to firewalls and MS Office to switches and cabling.

So what about the other 1/3? Training. If you take the time to learn how to  use your technology, you’d be surprised about how much more effective you can be. For example, Microsoft Office 2007 is coming out soon. With an hour or two of training on how it works and what the new features are, you could increase your productivity considerably.

Or even in your operating system. Take some time to learn how your files are organized so you can find them quicker. The internet is a big learning tool and a creature that needs some training to help you understand how to use. Invest in some time (and not necessarily paying for training) and you might be surprised. Most new software products  have introductory tutorials and advanced tutorials. Take some time to poke around and see what you can learn.

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5 Tips for Businesses this holiday season

  1. Employees will likely want to shop online – let them know it’s OK (if it is) to use work computers as long they use them outside of their normal work hours.
  2. Spam has an incredibly huge upsurge at this time. Just be aware of this as there is little that your email provider can do.
  3. If your business traditionally slows at this time of year, this might be a good time to do some extra computer training. Keep you and your staff abreast of your technology.
  4. Try not to succumb to the urge to get the cheap computers available this shopping season. The big makers are trying to get rid of excess inventory which means the clunkers that no one wanted to pay full price for are now cheap.
  5. Budget now for your technology for next year. If you’ve got computers purchased before 2003, they will likely need to be upgraded or traded out for newer models. Do you need to upgrade your Operating Systems (is you’re not using Windows XP SP2, you do [sorry Mac users, Microsoft still rules in business])? Are you getting the most of the tools you already own or do you need to invest in more training?
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